» Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Northern Ireland

Asked whether if the Prime Minister was encouraged by what Gerry Adams had said in his speech last night the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that as the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) Report had highlighted the Republican leadership knew that they had to engage with the police and Gerry Adams’ speech last nights seemed to echo that assessment. In terms of the details this was one leg of the issues that had to be addressed in the next few days. The other issue being power sharing, and as we said earlier this week the number of issues being faced this week is relatively small. And we believed it was a matter of how and when we moved forward, not if.

Asked at what part of the day there would be a deadline on Friday the PMOS replied that Dr Paisley wished to be back in Belfast on the Friday night for his golden wedding anniversary. That aside `he could not predict timings precisely but emphasised that those involved needed to know where they were going in terms of the process by Friday and if a deal was possible and on what terms. People would need time to consult grass roots but there was legislation in place that if no progress was made by 24 November 2006 there would be consequences.

Asked how optimistic he was regarding progress of the talks the PMOS replied that it was his long standing policy not to get into the optimism/pessimism discussion regarding Northern Ireland but that he was realistic, and what was undeniable was the very real progress which the IMC Report had articulated last week in terms of IRA activity, but also the efforts on the loyalist side. The PMOS also said that Northern Ireland was a changed place and the talks this week were an opportunity for politics to move on to reflect that change. This opportunity was there for the party leaders in a way that had not been there before.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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